My kingdom is not of this world, (John 18:36)
There are many divergent views in “Christendom” on this very important subject, but regardless of the minor differences all views make the kingdom something carnal. The text at the head states otherwise in as plain a manner as any place in Scripture. A kingdom must have a king; all will, I trust, admit this proposition. Who is the King then of this Kingdom? Is it the Pope or other earthly man? Do churches, councils or associations rule as kings? No, Jesus is the King over His kingdom and His words to Pilate still apply: “My kingdom is not of this world”.
The Jews at the time of Christ expected the imminent overthrow of the kingdom of Rome and themselves to be inheritors of the Kingdom of God. They thought their Messiah would be enthroned on an earthly throne with all the power and glory of earthly kings. They, themselves, would not be mere subjects of this king, but would, rather, be ruling over the Gentiles with great authority. How wrong they were! Their king came, and they rejected Him. By the determinate council and foreknowledge of God they delivered Him up to the Roman government to be crucified because He did not meet their carnal expectations. The spirit which motivated these ancient Jews has not left the world yet. Many today look for the same type of earthly Kingdom. People the world over teach the kingdom will be restored unto Israel, and the Jews, by virtue of their descent from Abraham, will rule over the nations. Any who have ever read the New Testament, especially Romans and Galatians, will see the error in this system. To be a citizen of the Kingdom of Christ, one must be born, not from Abraham, but from above. This is one very carnal view of the Kingdom.
Another common (and erroneous) view of the Kingdom is that it is still future but it will be made up of Christians who will rule over the non-Christians on the Earth during the time of this Kingdom. This is the same view as the Jews had. We still do not see a “kingdom not of this world” but a religious modification of the kingdoms of this earth. Just think a moment and consider: if Jesus came to establish a carnal kingdom, why did He tell Pilate what He did? If He came to establish a Jewish kingdom then He lied. If He was going to bring about a Christian kingdom then, to be precise, he should have said, “My kingdom is not yet of the world, but it will be in the future.” He said what he meant, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
His kingdom is “not of this world” because He, the King, is “not of this world.” He is of heavenly origin, therefore His Kingdom is heavenly, as well. “Is this not Joseph’s son” the people asked themselves? No it was not. It was God’s Son who spoke to them, walked with them and preached the “gospel of the kingdom” to them. He was born of the virgin, clothed in human flesh, but He was not of this world. He was clothed with glory with the Father before the worlds were, and He laid aside that glory to come and redeem those who were given Him by the Father before the foundation of the world. Carnal nature could never see Him as King. His disciples, however, know Him to be the great King of Kings who has not delegated any of His kingly authority, and they listen to His words and obey them.
His kingdom is “not of this world” because its citizens are “not of this world.” As the King has a heavenly origin so the inhabitants of His kingdom must have the same birth. To be a citizen of the Kingdom of England, one must either be born there or naturalized into it. We must be born into this heavenly kingdom, also. You must be born again or you cannot even see the kingdom of God. No heavenly birth, no citizenship in the Kingdom. This truth gives the lie to the notion that all who are a part of a national or parochial church, who have been sprinkled in infancy and have their names on a parish roll are citizens of the Kingdom. There is no place for reprobates in this kingdom. In- deed, many who fancy themselves members in highest standing because of all the “good” they do, will find themselves cast out into outer darkness when they think they will be the inheritors of the riches of this kingdom.
His kingdom is “not of this world” because its earthly manifestation is “not of this world.” The Church that Jesus built is the manifestation of the kingdom on this earth. True citizens of the Kingdom desire to obey the laws of their King because they are just and righteous. The true Churches of Christ are the only place where His rule is acknowledged. This is not to say that all who are members of Churches are citizens of the Kingdom. No, the wheat and the tares must grow together until the time of the harvest. N either is it to say all who are not members of a gospel Church are reprobate, for many wander in the wilderness without finding rest. But, the place where Christ’s authority as King over His Saints is seen in the world is only in His Church. Children of the Kingdom desire to obey His rule and submit to Him in baptism and taking the supper which He instituted in the Church. There, and only there, is Christ preached as head over all things. There the Word (the Scriptures) is searched to see what He would have done, and not what carnal reasoning says is proper. There believers meet together to be fed by Him and worship Him without human means or measures. There the Kingship of Jesus is proclaimed without any “but’s” or “if’s”. If we believe in a carnal Kingdom, we must also believe in a carnal Church made up, not of Saints, but worldly members such as Protestants and Roman Catholics do.
Volume 5, No. 3
May - June, 1991